18 May 2020

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A view across a peaceful Shotley Bridge on the River Derwent - but it hasn't always been this way, having once been an industrial centre with waterwheels and mills for sword making and paper manufacture.
Welcome to the Land of Oak & Iron Newsletter

This edition of Forging Ahead will be the last of our regular newsletters for a little while, as the Land of Oak & Iron team scales back on activity.  Please keep checking our social media channels and sharing your wonderful photographs and memories of the Land of Oak & Iron, we will be over the moon to hear from you.

You can still catch up with other stories, photographs and past newsletters that you may not have had a chance to look at yet, via the Land of Oak & Iron news and gallery pages.

There are also short films to watch on our YouTube channel including an animation of Crowley's slitting mill and old footage of Chopwell, Rapper Dancers and Whinfield Coke Works.

Of course, Forging Ahead will be back when we're all allowed to meet again in the Land of Oak & Iron.
Don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
The Sword Makers of Shotley Bridge 

In 1687, nineteen German sword makers settled at Shotley Bridge by the River Derwent.  There were supplies of ironstone, water, wood for charcoal, millstone for grindstones and a sea route from Newcastle to London.

There are few records of the early years of the sword makers to explain why they came to England, however we do know that in 1691 a Royal Charter was granted to form a company for making hollow sword blades in England.

On Wednesday 1 April 2020, Paul Heatherington was due to host an evening talk - 'The Sword Makers of Shotley Bridge', at the Heritage Centre in Winlaton Mill.  Sadly, the planned talk and meal had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus situation and the need to practice social distancing,

Paul has kindly written a short article reflecting some of his research and knowledge about the Sword Makers which you can now read on the website's news page.

Hopefully you will be able to join us in discovering more about the sword makers at the rescheduled evening talk when the Heritage Centre reopens.  Once we have a new date for the talk, further information and tickets will be available from our event pages.

Until then, please read about the sword makers and the South Sea Bubble on our news page.

Shotley Bridge Craftsmanship

Staying with the theme of Shotley Bridge - if you're out and about in the area you may spot one or two of the new interpretation panels that have started to appear at various locations, with important links to the heritage of the Land of Oak & Iron.

The interpretation panel on the Derwent Walk at Shotley Station features information about the sword makers, along with an illustration by local artist Cathy Duncan.

There is a further panel standing at Shotley Grove about the craftsmanship of Shotley Bridge, including the sword makers, paper manufacture and traditional rapper dancing.

Find out more about the interpretation panels, Cathy Duncan's illustrations and her exhibition of original prints in the Heritage Centre - which will be available to view once the centre reopens.

And to finish - some more photographs from our collection to remind us of the beautiful Land of Oak & Iron and some of the special activities we have shared together as a community, we look forward to taking more photographs soon.

If you have any photographs that you would like to share, please tag us on our social media pages @LandofOakandIron

You can see more of our photographs on the Gallery page.

Thank you for reading our regular Forging Ahead newsletters and for your support - look out for updates on our social media channels and we hope to see you once our Heritage Centres are open again.
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